It’s Summertime – Part 4

Time for temperature checks
Time for thirst
Time for travel
Time for transparency
Time for transformation

Watercolor Art Credit: Kateryna Savchenko

Temperature Checks

Do you notice more people talk about the weather in the summertime? How warm will it be? Will it be 70 degrees? 80 degrees? Or, 90 degrees? Will we need to bring a light jacket? How about a breeze? Do we need to bring cooler bags for the groceries? Temperature seems to carry a bit more weight in the summertime. Which makes perfect sense since the temperature can help aid in the dressing department. Shorts or slacks? Sleeves or no sleeves? Bathing suit in the carry bag? A dip in a pool or a casual splash in a creek. Summertime is fun! Summertime is a time for unexpected adventures.

Temperature delights with unexpectedness.

Thirst

Thirst and sweat and summer all go hand in hand. The hotter it is – the sweatier it gets.  And that means to hydrate. The best way to hydrate is with water. Other favorite summertime beverages include ice tea and lemonade. Of course, there are alcoholic drink possibilities as well. Just remember, if your body is thirsty – it needs water, not alcohol. Add them to ice tea or lemonade to add a kick! If you do drink in the summertime, drink responsibly. 

Thirst signals a sensation for survival.

Travel

Summertime is time for travel. During a global pandemic, however, this becomes a bit tricky. Cars seem to be safe if traveling with the people in your household. Last summer, a one-hour boat ride on a lake was a vacation. This summer is renting a home with a pool. Driving by car routinely now includes more hand washing, hand sanitizing, and keeping a face mask within a moment’s reach. Masking up when at rest areas or other public indoor places is important.

Travel is tricky in a pandemic.

Transparency

Perhaps it is a good idea to ponder the concept of transparency. Interestingly, Wikipedia defines it as “implies openness, communication, and accountability.”   The summer is a great time to explore new ideas. To be open to new possibilities and think about the future. To communicate more openly and to share more often. To be accountable for yourself and your actions. Transparency is considering your authentic self. Being better. More compassionate. More giving. More passionate. More loving.

Transparency inspires courage, grace, and strength.

Transformation

When people work on themselves, they set in motion the wheels of transformation. Transforming themselves to be able to help transform others. Summertime provides an opportunity to take a breath. To take a weekend. Go to the lake. Or the community pool. To read the book, you have been wanting to read. In this pandemic world, we live in right now – there is always time to transform yourself into the person you want to be. Keep striving for betterness. There, you will find the true treasures of life.

Transformation embraces change that is new and inviting.

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I and Thou: Summertime Part 3

It’s Summertime – Part 3

Time for family
Time for friends
Time for fun
Time for flowers
Time for fiddling
Time for fellowship



Photo Credit: Steve Grundy’s Lily Pond Perfection

Family.

The other day, a group of cousins spent a few hours with each other. Many of them had not seen each other in years – if not decades.  What makes a family special? It is the relaxed nature of strangers coming together and sharing a special bond that is really unexplainable. It feels like an old shoe. The comfortable pair stay in the closet even when worn and tattered. Make time for family. Go the extra mile(s). It is worth it!

Family comes in all shapes and sizes warts and all. 

Friends.

Often, friends feel like family, or dare say, better than family. Family is not chosen – friends are. Friends can be from childhood, or they can be someone who met a few weeks ago. Having friends surround you with love is necessary for life. Friends support and encourage. Friends are there when you need to talk or just sit still. Sure, friends come and go. Hang on to the ones who are uplifting. Let go of ones who aren’t.

Friends are chosen wisely and provide encouragement when needed.

Fun.

Summertime is the perfect time to have fun. What is fun? Fun is something you do that brings you joy and delight. Sometimes it is going beyond a comfort zone and trying something new. Visiting an amusement park, playing a game, sharing dinner with a sibling, floating in a pool. Fun creates laughter. Having fun is essential. It is vital for health and happiness.  

Fun is the cornerstone of life – make time to have more fun!

Flowers.

Summertime is a time for flowers so vibrant and lush. Leaves variegated and velvety soft. Or leaves that are prickly and stiff. Roses and hibiscus that bloom week after week. Or, how about the Schefflera? Schefflera, grow outside in Florida – who knew? Flowers are like friends. They are uplifting. They can brighten an otherwise dismal day. 

Flowers are fresh, colorful and enhance wellbeing.

Fiddling.

Fiddling is something you do that you usually don’t have time to do. It can be riding a bike. Writing a short story. It can be puttering around the house, organizing, cleaning, or fixing. Fiddling also reminds me of a friend of mine who is really a professional fiddler (you know the music kind!) and violinist. He makes it all look so easy. And fun? Fun is having a preschool teacher dance the Irish jig played by a professional fiddler in front of an audience of senior citizens.


Fiddling passes the time whether it is the musical version or not.

Fellowship.

Growing up in a Christian home, fellowship was a common word that referred to the coffee hour after church service. For me, the fellowship has taken on a much deeper spiritual meaning. Fellowship is a gathering of friends and sharing an experience. Whether it be a homemade fish and rice dinner, a dinner at a restaurant of salmon and mashed sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of ginger, or touring an unfamiliar town. Fellowship is sharing deep thoughts. It is getting to know someone just a bit better. What better time to have fellowship than summertime?

Fellowship is taking the time to learn a little more about a person than you did before.

I and Thou: Summertime Part 2

It’s Summertime – Part 2

Time to splash
Time to sip
Time to sing
Time for solitude

Splash.

What better place to splash than in a gorgeous built-in pool with a waterfall? 

Rotunda West, FL is a lovely, quiet, sleepy wagon wheel-shaped area on the west coast about ½ way between Sarasota and Fort Myers.

There is something spiritual about a waterfall. Hearing water cascading down a tiled and glass blocked wall sounds like rain falling on a hot summer day. The dripping sound is very calming. Does water calm you? It sure calms me. Oceans, pools, lakes, rivers – you name it – if there is water – there is calm. Yet, where there is a pool, there is bound to be splashing! Splashing water with hands and feet takes me back to childhood. Splashing seems to wipe years away in an instant. So, the next time you are in a pool – go ahead and make a splash!

Splashing brings out child-like qualities.

Sip. 

Sipping a beverage in the summertime is different than the rest of the year. Do you agree?  In summer, whether it is sipping iced tea, lemonade, or a favorite alcoholic beverage, summer makes it sweeter. Maybe it is the casualness of the outdoors? The warm summer breezes? Or the flip-flops? Whatever it is, sipping a glass of ½ ice tea, ½ lemonade, with a splash of limeade – sure is my favorite! Sipping reminds me of savoring. Savoring a piece of pie or the last spoonful of ice cream. Sipping is slow. It is a way of saying, slow down! But, after sipping, I feel rejuvenated. Do you?

Sipping allows you to savor the moment and enjoy the relaxation of summertime.

Sing.

I come from a very musical family. Both of my brothers were in the high school band. My brother Bob, was a music teacher for decades.  My sister played the piano, as did both of my parents. In addition, my dad sang in the church choir and often performed solos. I, however, did not really inherit the “musical” gene. Although I sure love to sing, I’m not really good at all. Yet, my heart overflows with joy, and I sing anyway, especially in the shower. For me, singing is expressing joy. Joy of love. Joy of life. I really try to embrace joy and bury the sorrow. The sorrow of a failed marriage. The sorrow of an estranged/alienated son. Maybe the singing is just my way of expressing sorrow – the deep sadness that I live with every day. For me, it is a choice. I can choose to cry. Or, I can choose to sing. I decide to sing because singing soothes my soul. So go ahead – sing a tune and see how you feel. Do you feel better?

Singing to yourself or out loud often soothes the soul.

Solitude.

Solitude is spending time with yourself. It is a time to just “be.” How often do we really do that in this busy, instant messaging world? I think of Jesus. Jesus often went off to pray, leaving his disciples. Maybe Jesus needed solitude to think or to refresh. Or to reenergize. Or, perhaps, Jesus needed time to speak to God.  In The Word Among Us, Father Mitch Pacwa, writes an article entitled, Jesus Sets Out Alone to Pray, where Father Pacwa announces, “We’re Invited to Join Jesus in His Secret Place of Prayer.” What do you need solitude for? As humans, we all need solitude. Time to getaway. Time to unplug. Time to “be.”

Solitude quiets our minds and restores our souls.

Enjoy the rest of the summer! Life is a life-long learning experience.

I and Thou: Summertime

It’s Summertime!

Artwork: Tropical Holiday Hawaii Beach by Robin Wethe Altman

Time to refresh
Time to renew
Time to reflect
Time to repent

Refresh.

What better place to refresh than a beach? 

Oak Island, NC, is a lovely, quiet, sleepy beach town. 

Growing up in NJ, where the shore was an hour away, it could take up to three hours to get there because of traffic.  And, of course, once you arrived, you needed to pay for parking and pay to go on the beach.  No free beach in NJ.  That is if you can find a public beach.  Many beaches are private and require a “badge.” In NC, it is entirely different.  Free public beach access that is clearly visible.  Plenty of free parking nearby.  What a joy to be able to enjoy an hour or so at the beach without the hassle! 

Refreshing is gaining a new perspective on the present.

Renew. 

Renewing our minds every once in a while, is good medicine for our souls.  How do you renew?  I renew by stepping out of my comfort zone and trying something new. 

Renewing is being grateful for what you have and looking forward to what will be.

Reflect.

Growing up in a non-denominational evangelical home environment, the Church was the center point. All seemed to revolve around Church. Church was on Sunday.  That is what we did—Sunday School at 9:30 a.m. and Church service at 10:45 a.m. Then, sometimes, fellowship hour after Church.  Then home for Sunday dinner.  Maybe a ride in the car. Then, rest time.  Then a lite supper and then back to Church for evening service. 

Wednesday evening was Prayer Meeting, and I remember my dad faithfully going.  Then Thursday evening was choir rehearsal which my father participated in as well.  Thursday was also Pioneer Girls, similar to Girl Scouts, which I participated in for many years.  Youth group at Church plus a regional youth group, Youth for Christ, were activities held at various times throughout the years that I regularly attended.  I do remember one summer attending a bible study that was at 7:00 a.m.  I woke up, grabbed some juice, and rode my bike up to Church.  It really wasn’t that far – about 1 mile.  

When I was a bit older, the regional group expanded my horizons to meet other kids in nearby towns.  I appreciated learning more about different churches; yet, I felt a tug to be more involved in my neighborhood.  My parents discouraged me from community activities.  And strongly encouraged Church-sponsored events and outgoings with “church kids.”  I also vaguely remember one summer going away to camp at a Christian Camp named Camp Cherith. That is where I learned to do archery, shoot a rifle (BB’s), and horseback ride.  Reflecting on my childhood, I felt that I was in a bubble; I could only do activities that were Church related.  I thought that I missed out on friendships with those who were unlike me.

My first experience with discrimination was when my parents did not support my friendship with a little girl up the block named Charlotte.  She was Jewish.  I don’t know why my parents were afraid of people who were unlike them.  I was five.  It had a lasting impact on me and my life.  It was then when my first questions started about religion, faith, and Christian love.  I still wonder if Charlotte knew why I couldn’t be her friend.

There were lots of rules growing up. No playing on Sunday.  No bike riding on Sunday.  No going to school dances. No going to movies. No playing cards.  I felt deprived.  I felt like a freak. I’m sure being bullied by a girl named Debby in junior high school didn’t help either.  I was so scared, and I don’t really know why.  Perhaps, I’ll never know.

Reflecting is learning from the past.

Repent.      

What exactly is repenting? And what do we need to repent from?  First, repenting requires acknowledging a wrongdoing or a regret.  Who in this world has not done something they have regretted?  Not me – for sure!  Then, repenting requires coming to peace with the regret.  For me, repenting is freeing.  Once you have come to terms with a situation, and only then, can you then move forward.  At the University of Ozarks, their mission is “to live life fully,” and you can only do that after you have reflected, repented, refreshed and renewed.  Not necessarily in that order.

Repenting is coming to terms and making peace.

Enjoy the rest of the summer!  Life is a life-long learning experience.

I and Thou: Divine Valentine

Is Valentine’s Day your favorite holiday?

It is mine!

Much of it has to do with the gratitude I have in my heart for life itself and where I am today. It is the realization that this love comes from God. Agape love is divine love – a pure love between humans and their Creator. A Christ-like love can only exist within the context of faith. An illustration of agape love is in John 3:16.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16
It is this agape love that lives within each of us. And, it is up to us to know what to do with it. We show others this love through simple actions. A warm smile. A hug. A thank you. Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to think of how you can offer your love to others each and every day.

Valentine’s Day is often thought of as a holiday for lovers. It is so much more than that. In my mid-twenties, I was not in a romantic relationship on Valentine’s Day; so, my friend Wendy and I decided to go to Atlantic City for the weekend. Wendy had a friend who had a condo in Brigantine, actually an island, the city right over Atlantic City’s breezeway. The closest casino at the time was Trump’s Castle. So, off we went. I remember the inside of the casino looking majestic and castle-like. It was quite stunning. The point in this story is that Wendy and I had a great time. It was a time and place where I realized that I didn’t have to be in a romantic relationship to enjoy the love in the air on Valentine’s Day. So, for this Valentine’s Day in 2021, I wish all of you agape love. The love that will never fail. The love of our divine Creator.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I and Thou – An Alien in a Foreign Land

An Alien in a Foreign Land

An alien in a foreign land…
Where all that is around feels unfamiliar.
New.

Yet, in some ways, strangely old.
Seeking to find the comfort of an old shoe or bathrobe.  
Lying in bed as the world goes by. 

Feeling frozen in time.  Short of breath.  
Not knowing where your children are or if they are safe.

An alien in a foreign land…
Writing, speaking to unknown faces. New.

Yet, in some ways, strangely old.
Meeting strangers, small talk, and dining in restaurants.
Wondering if this person will call you again. 

Feeling anxious.  Short of breath.
Not knowing what tomorrow will hold.

An alien in a foreign land…
Opening the door to online yesterday in person today. New.

Yet, in some ways, strangely old.
Conversing deeply about life and sharing freshly brewed coffee.
Embarking on a new relationship, perhaps. 

Feeling excited. Short of breath.
Not knowing where it will go.

An alien in a foreign land…
Letting go and letting God direct your life.  New.

Yet, in some ways, strangely old.
Following God’s call to a new foreign land.
Stumbling and falling along the way. 

Feeling hesitant.  Short of breath.
Not knowing where it will lead.

An alien in a foreign land…
Friendly faces are fresh and welcoming.  New.

Yet, in some ways, strangely old.
Sharing time and talents and learning in a new workplace.
Making a difference in people’s lives. 

Feeling humbled.  Short of breath.
Not knowing the impact for years to come.

An alien in a foreign land…
Casting out pebbles to see where they land.  New.

Yet, in some ways, strangely old.
Exploring new places and seeking adventures along the way.
Filling with anticipation.
Feeling thrilled.  Short of breath
Not knowing where the landing will be.

Artwork by: Ernest Mancoba

I and Thou – Global Pandemic Part 3

Christmas Season 2020

Online services
Music streaming
Celebrations by zoom
Dinners at home
Small gatherings, if any

Here are updates from the post on 4/13/20.

In Arkansas…

April 13, 2020

  • 1,280 confirmed Covid19 cases | 27 deaths

December 24, 2020

  • 176,744 confirmed Covid19 cases | 2,959 deaths

In Massachusetts…

April 13, 2020

  • 25,475 confirmed Covid 19 cases | 756 deaths

December 24, 2020

  • 335,731 confirmed Covid19 cases | 11,752 deaths

In New Jersey…

April 13, 2020

  • 61,000+ confirmed Covid19 cases | 2,350 deaths

December 25, 2020

  • 458,900 confirmed Covid19 cases | 16,650 deaths

In New York…

April 13, 2020

  • 188,00+ confirmed Covid19 cases | 9,000+ deaths

December 27, 2020 9:45 a.m.

  • 920,171 confirmed Covid19 case | 36,870 deaths

In the United States…

April 13, 2020

  • 558,000 confirmed Covid19 cases  | 22,000 deaths

December 27, 2020

  • 19,103,992 confirmed Covid19 cases | 335,265 deaths
Artwork: Tree Tapestry by Miriam Schulman, @schulmanArt

Revive Us


May God mourn with us the lives that have been taken,
Provide us with comfort and care,
Instill community in all of us of near and far.
Revive us, O Lord
Mark us by your Holy Spirit,
Speak to us and make it clear,
So we can fulfill the mission you have set.

I and Thou – Better to Receive

12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. John 1:12 & 13

Artwork Credit: Faith Evans-Sells http://www.faithevansells.com

You enjoy holiday shopping. Don’t you? You aim to select the perfect gift for a loved one. Best of all, you love giving the gift and watching it be unwrapped.  All you want is to see the joy and excitement. Lately, I’ve been thinking about gift-giving. I used to think that it more suitable to give than to receive. Yet, in John 1:12 & 13, we see that it is much better to receive than to give. God has a way of turning our thinking upside down. In this passage, we see that our faith isn’t enough. We need to also receive. Receive God. Receive salvation. It is free for you and me. So, you may ask, how do I know if I am a child of God? Your logical mind may agree that there is a God. What does your heart say? It is the heart that causes your behavior to gradually change over time. When you strive to be Christ-like in your daily life, you become a child a God through your acceptance of God’s love.